Dilated – Finished Demo – Album Review
I get the strangest submissions sometimes y’all…I wish I could tell ya what it was like to attempt to assist in keeping the scene organized from this side of the screen and how I just don’t have that bone in me anymore. At least a solid percentage of my most bizarre submissions have come from this dude over the past several years, and we can take this record as a further example. If it has a title, I have no idea what it is. If it has official artwork, I couldn’t tell ya. It supposedly has eight tracks, but I only have seven listed. I have time markings as to where things would theoretically lineup up track-to-track, which don’t always make a whole lot of audible sense when you listen, which we’ll go into right away. There’s really something to be said for taking your time with the things y’all work so hard on and put your hearts and souls into, you know? Anyhow. I do like what I hear from this guy usually, so there’s that…
Let’s start with “hld nt my sl,” which is apparently a minute & eleven seconds long…which I’d probably dispute based on what I’m hearing over here on this side of the speakers. I’ve got all these songs in one big long file, and unless things chopped off at a really bizarre point which would more than likely be halfway through this first song, I’d have to assume “hld nt my sl” is actually considerably longer. I don’t know that of course…I’m just assuming…it’s Dilated, and trust me when I tell ya, decoding this dude is very much on the impossible side of things. He does what he does, he makes music, and the rest from my experience, is generally a complete afterthought. He’s the kind of guy that makes you really consider just how much we throw around the term ‘artist’ so loosely when describing others. This dude really IS an artist…and from what I can gather, it’s the music that matters, and the rest be damned, up to and including my sanity while trying to figure it all out. So…hmm…yeah…I don’t really know how to even make comments on this record when comparing them to the notes I’ve got. Like…I’m convinced “hld nt my sl” is probably closer to two-minutes in length…and then…according to what I can see in the liner notes here…the next song would begin at the…17:52 mark? Which makes whatever occurs in the space between roughly two-minutes in & nearly eighteen minutes a complete full-on sonic mystery I suppose. On the brightest side of things, I do really enjoy the weirdness he’s put together with the echoing vocals of “hld nt my sl” as this record begins, and I’m loving the more aggressive edge his music has overall – if you’ve read my reviews on this dude’s music from the past here at our site, you’d learn he’s quite often been found more closely to the ambient section of sound…but not this, he’s come out swinging here.
So…we’ll call it “the void” for now, because I’ve got no name to describe what is happening between the two-minute mark and seventeen fifty-two in these notes I have in front of me on my dusty desk only lit by a flickering candle, way deep down in the basement of my nuclear bunker, as I continue to hide away from the world. Why it would be strange at all for “the void” not to simply be an extension of “hld nt my sl” is simply due to the fact that, for at least the next several minutes, you can clearly hear it’s at least using the same hooks. I think it’s around the 5:40 mark that you can really hear the most tangible break as Dilated brings in a noticeably different groove, and to be completely fair to the guy, this freakin’ WORKS. A fact of which usually got me pounding on my desk, disturbing the final nub of my candle, trying to figure out why Dilated wouldn’t make the details a bit more coherent and accessible so that he can really start to build some much deserved traction with his music. Because this is killer – and within about two…umm…I don’t know what you want to call these pieces of space – songs?…I’m convinced that this…umm…finished demo…is already going to rank among the best I’ve ever heard from the guy, if not be THE best I’ve ever heard from the guy so far. Vocally, he has FOUND his spot at long last. It’s been fairly clear to me over the years that he was always hoping to be more of a singer than he was capable of early on, and when you hear how perfectly this has all come out, you realize how much he’s worked on that aspect to bring it up to a level where it can rival the skills he’s got in his instrumentation. Somewhere around the tenth minute, we end up back in the hooks we started with on “hld nt my sl,” so it would seem that we still haven’t technically left that first song and that “the void” as I’ve called it (in small letters to keep that consistency for him) might not really exist at all…this might just be a seven song record instead of the eight tracks I was told it contains. Shortly after the tenth minute, somewhere around minute eleven or so, you hear another large deviation in the vibe that could very well be the separation between songs…so maybe this is where “the void” starts – I am clearly not the person that is going to be able to tell you for sure. The drums are killer though…the vibe is intensely loose but vibrant and alive…the creativity is off-the-charts cool to listen to and experience overall…and by the same token, Dilated’s making a record that will appeal to the most niche and narrow audience he’s appealed to so far. Which is saying a lot when it comes right down to it…he’s never been one to cater to the mainstream to begin with, and while he’s rocking with more accessibility to a degree, structurally, he’s so all over the map once again that it’d be a monumental ask for the average everyday listener to stick it out with him from moment to moment. It’d be like trying to write the rest of this review in the pitch black once my candle burns out, or trying to figure out where these songs start or finish for real – it ain’t exactly easy to follow, but if you’re the adventurous and curious type of listener like I am, you’ll certainly give it the ol’ college try. Dilated’s onto something with this record, even if we have no idea what it is.
“by th rvr” seems to start pretty close to the time it was promised to, give or take a few seconds…so that’s cool. Sonically scattered, he doesn’t really give ya that much to hang onto as it begins, and it’ll take a few moments before you can find your footing and have some kind of idea what it is you’re really listening to. Each individual element, whether it’s the guitar, the drums, the vocals, the bass, the…umm…strangeness in between all that…quite honestly, everything sounds freakin’ great and 100% unique, even if it’s tough for our brains to sort out this pile of music he’s dropping on us all at once. It can’t be easy to pull off what he’s creating, that much I can tell ya – and he’d be an equally tough act to follow if he was somehow able to make this all happen live too. I don’t know what Dilated does or doesn’t do in that regard…last I checked, the man was making music in his bedroom…but his music has since become a whole lot louder and I’m not sure that the ol’ bedroom could hold as many instruments and effects pedals as he seems to have in his collection nowadays. Anyhow. He shifts “by th rvr” to a more Pop-infused alternative/indie vibe that’s still largely hard to discern in many ways, but also seems to consistently pump out a whole sound that you really wanna dig right into. He’s becoming like…the Jackson Pollock of music, throwing sound against the wall to see what sticks, and finding a masterpiece. While I’m undoubtedly more partial to the first giant track, or two tracks on this record depending on how you look at it, I’m certainly enjoying this Rorschach test of sound in action on all fronts so far, 100%.
Shifting into the meaty melody of “cntgs,” I’m gettin’ those heavier Mellow Gold vibes from Beck long ago, and that similar feeling of how we had no clue about just how much genius there really was in the music that we were listening to. Because this is just straight-up bloody brilliant. Dilated has entirely outdone himself with this track…stunning background vocals, amazing lead, and visionary ideas on “cntgs” that should leave the majority of us speechless in awe of this cut, straight-up. This is the kind of track so damn monumental that you have to wonder just how much Dilated is even aware of that fact, but in the end, I suppose the result is the same. He’s made it, he’s putting it out there, and we get to experience this extraordinary uniqueness in action. I practically have no words that could do what I’m hearing on this song enough justice…all I can really say is that Dilated has truly tapped into the artist he was always meant to become, and we’re really starting to hear that next phase of his career take shape now. It’ll continue to contort, morph, and probably shape-shift even further from here, but this is most certainly the record that pushes his music from good to great. And I’ll remind ya, he’s managing to do this without even half of what we hear making any kind of typical sense to our ears…that he’s creating all this sound without adhering to what we’ve regarded as the ‘rules’ of music or conforming to any kind of ‘normal’ songwriting…Dilated’s pushing the boundaries, and it’s been fantastic to experience for sure. In my personal opinion, cuts like “cntgs” should win the guy awards for his remarkable level of creativity.
“stck n _ mmnt” – is your keyboard working properly bro? Wht f _ strtd wrtng lk ths? M rvws wld b shrtr, thts fr sr. Yikes…I can’t do it. That’s cringe-worthy stuff for a writer, gold for an artist, and I know which lane I belong in, so I’ll stay in that one. Kickass track though! “stck n _ mmnt” is on the beefier side of Dilated’s sound…it’s like part Tool in the riffs, part Black Angels in the psych-vibe…all-in-all, I think he’s got a real winner here that has majorly tangible hooks, and even a fairly tangible structure that most would be able to hang with. I’ll put it to ya this way…whether the people can or they can’t hang with it, one effective hook can be more than enough to make a song and convince the masses to come back for another listen – and in that respect, “stck n _ mmnt” is guaranteed to satisfy a whole lotta folks out there. What I really appreciate about Dilated is how often the guy surprises me. I’ve always found something to like or love about his music, but it’s been much more on the delicate side until his most recent records really…and hearing him head towards heavier gears like he does on “stck n _ mmnt” is complete proof that he’s every bit as effective in making music like that as he has been with his lighter side of sound. Smart use of the effects on his vocals…overall, there’s a lot to be stoked on about the way this song has come out, and the way this record has come out too for that matter. I might have seemed like a fuckin’ grump as this review began but that’s just my OCD nature flaring up and me needling this man to be as organized as possible so that his music gets to all the ears that it should be – at the end of the day, I accept things as they are, and great tunes always puts me in a better mood. The facts are the facts here – Dilated’s been crushing it on this album, and you should be anticipating this release whenever it comes out of its demo stages & becomes the beautiful butterfly it’s supposed to be.
Then there’s “n d,” which is…intended to be as odd as it truly is…for a moment there, I felt like I was in the middle of a self-help audio book before Dilated bent all of time & space around me. He’s playin’ his own DJ on “n d,” and equal parts philosopher…I enjoy this side of his persona and I’ve watched his third eye expand from afar ever since I started listening to his music way back whenever the heck that was. What’d be news to him I’m sure is that I’ve never actually stopped listening…here’s some proof of that, and here’s a little more. You see? We all have our secrets. But yes…to be crystal clear, I’ve been a fan, I’m still a fan, and if he continues to evolve at the rate he’s been evolving, we will ALL be fans for certain. “n d” is just a bit over ninety-seconds long…you’re welcome to take it or leave it – I think it’s a fun track and I get why he kept this in there…he’s got a penchant for trippin’ people out that he fully embraces.
“vrythng y d chngs th rm” works well enough…as it begins, you can sure hear the strong definition in the production and strength in the sound…credit to the man behind the music, again, he’s worked on all this kind of stuff to evolve as he’s continued on. It’s probably fair to say there’s a little less in “vrythng y d chngs th rm” for the average person to grasp onto in some ways, but vocally, you get a bit more clarity from Dilated and I’d imagine people are going to dig on what the guy has to say. When the low-end heavy vibes kick in, this whole track becomes seriously effective…it’s an ambitious tune without a doubt, but there’s a ton that hits the mark bang-on here. I think you gotta be a bit more into your bands below the surface of the mainstream like Failure, Quicksand, and to a lesser extent, stuff like the Deftones or Team Sleep in order to fully appreciate a track like “vrythng y d chngs th rm” – but I ain’t saying it’s impossible. Heavier yes, but still with hooks you can reach if you’re listening closely enough…and I’d reckon that by this point on the album, you should be pretty intent on reaching the end of this journey. Not because you want it to be over, but so that you can start it up again…this seems to be one of those albums that the more you spin it, the greater its hold becomes…trust me, I’m speaking from experience.
If you dig on your frequencies, textures, and tones, you’ll find plenty to dig on in the final track called “hl nd yr sl,” so come and catch a “live feed of human suffering,” I promise it’ll be a better time than you’d think! Dilated’s definitely chosen to write about a whole bunch of interesting topics throughout this record, usually from an observant & insightful angle of crisis…external, internal, existential…you name it and he’s found both the joy and despair within it. “hl nd yr sl” is filled with different twists and turns, a stellar breakdown & bringback…and messages buried deep within it for you to decipher as you listen. Of course, I wish you the very best of luck in that…I’ve been trying to decode this dude for years now and I’m no closer to doing that successfully now than I’ve ever really been. As always, I just tell ya that I know what I like to listen to, and that’s about all I ever really claim to know anything about at all. Anything else I say that might have some relevance of any kind is simply me throwing curious darts at the bullseye and hoping to hit it, but probably not. I’ll say this…my gut tells me that, as it stands, this ‘finished demo’ album is likely a little front-loaded to a degree…I feel like those first…hmm…let’s say four songs and one phantom track with no name, are likely the bulk of the main strengths on this effort, but that there’s still plenty to stay engaged with thereafter. I can attest to there truly not being a moment that I didn’t enjoy – I think Dilated’s creativity has reached outstanding heights in this lineup, and his technical skills on all-fronts from the music to the microphone have noticeably leveled-up big-time. Essentially, it’s his most exciting record to-date in my opinion, and once again reveals an artist that continually finds impressive new ways to evolve, grow, and expand on everything he’s done in the past in order to push himself further into the future. If he keeps up the pace, he’ll be light-years ahead of the rest of us in no time at all, waiting for everyone to catch up. Perhaps he’s already there. A lot of this album is going to be over the heads of many, but those of us that get it, or catch onto even a piece, will be better off for having had the experience…Dilated’s in a remarkable space as an artist right now and clearly thriving creatively…if I had to hazard a guess, I’d bet he’s about to surge right into his prime.
Find more music by Dilated at Bandcamp here: https://eyeswiderthanthesun.bandcamp.com
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